5 New Ways To Improve Staff Retention

dental staff retention

Staff retention is a top priority to ensure the long-term success of any dental practice. With Dental Assistants Week and Dentist Day right around the corner, it’s a good time to review our staff retention plans and consider additional elements that could improve them.

The most obvious staff retention elements, such as compensation, staff recognition programs, and opportunities for professional growth, will only take you so far. Besides, if everybody else is doing these, then your practice will not have enough differentiators to keep your best-performing staff from moving on to greener pastures. So what are the 5 *new* ways to improve dental staff retention that are not on everybody’s radar, at least not just yet?

1. Work From Home

Yes, a lot of the work in a dental practice requires physical presence, especially in a clinical role. However, there are enough clerical tasks that do not necessarily require the staff to be at the office, such as:

  • Following up with patients, either one-on-one or in bulk
  • Scheduling or rescheduling patient recalls
  • Submitting insurance claims, with or without attachments
  • Sending out patient billing statements
  • Processing patient and insurance payments received
  • Processing periodic payments tied to financial contracts
  • Reviewing and updating clinical case notes
  • Updating the practice’s working hours
  • Reviewing and updating time records
  • Generating staff payroll reports
  • Ordering and reordering supplies
  • Analyzing performance by running reports, etc.

To make this possible, consider investing in a cloud-hosted practice management system with all these capabilities to allow your staff the flexibility to perform these either when in the office or remotely (perhaps on weekends as well). Even better: if your system includes an automatic time card feature, which would make it easier for your staff to track their time – whether on-site or remote.

2. Minimize “Busywork”

Most established dental practices still rely on a patchwork of legacy multi-vendor software solutions that do not always integrate well with each other, and consequently must be tended to by your staff – like:

  • Practice management system for scheduling and charting
  • Imaging system (2D and 3D) with on-site data storage
  • Patient engagement system for email & SMS communications
  • Web site with downloadable electronic forms
  • Payment processing using manual terminals
  • Patient and insurance billing
  • Financial contracts management
  • Secure patient portal
  • Reputation management system (social media)
  • Bulk email & SMS communications
  • Document templates for mail merge
  • Supplies ordering (either manual or a separate system)
  • Time records system
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Practice metrics and performance
  • And many more

If each of these systems requires a separate login and your staff has to re-enter the same information over and over every time they go from one system to another, this can add frustration and stress to your staff – not to mention inefficiencies to your practice. Consider switching to an “all-in-one” platform where your staff can perform all of these tasks without having to re-enter the same information all the time and stress out over the fear of transcription mistakes.

3. Integrate and Consolidate.

If your practice offers Orthodontic treatments (even if just Invisalign) in addition to family dentistry or specialty dentistry, using two separate software platforms (one for Orthodontic cases and another one for Dental treatment) and having to switch back and forth can add to the frustration and stress of your clinical staff. What if you had a platform that did both within a single platform? Consider switching.

4. Offer Better Tools.

Especially 3D. As dentistry is slowly moving into 3D, some of the more antiquated legacy platforms have not been able to keep up:

  • Molds and stone models? A thing of the past. Intraoral 3D scanning and 3D STL model visualization are slowly becoming the norm.
  • Implants? Need CBCT (a form of 3D X-rays) and drill guides (again, 3D STL models and perhaps a 3D printer in the office – or two).
  • Root canals? Even those rely on 3D CBCT nowadays…
  • Orthodontic treatments? Pan-Ceph X-rays are slowly being replaced by CBCT. It’s only not for maxillofacial surgeons anymore. Especially for Phase I treatments where controlled maxillary and mandibular bone growth is one of the main goals. And let’s not forget cephalometric analyses, 3D alignment tracking, and many others.

Better tools attract (and retain) better staff. Better staff aided by better tools leads to happier patients, better word-of-mouth referrals, better social media postings, and ultimately a better reputation for your practice. And, of course, a full schedule book with full chairs – and a long waiting list…

5. Invest in Staff Education and Training.

Adopt new ways of doing things, like using wireless intraoral X-ray sensors or handheld X-rays. Switch to dental software optimized for Wi-Fi touch tablets and get rid of those pesky computers and monitors tied to chairs in the clinical area – unclutter, modernize, optimize. Insist that your dental software is consistent, easy to use, easy to understand – and backed by built-in context-sensitive reference documentation and training videos so your staff can get immediate help when needed, where needed, without going through the hassle of having to do a whole bunch of Google searches to get help and assistance when needed – especially when they get stuck with the software while a patient is in the chair.

Doing all these will increase your staff’s sense of proficiency, professional pride, and operational excellence. The best will want to work with you – and stay with you.

In conclusion

As we prepare to celebrate Dental Assistants Week and Dentists Day, it’s time to revisit our strategies for employee retention and satisfaction. Dentistry is complex, and your professional staff needs to feel appreciated, valued and supported so that their work is fulfilling, engaging, and empowering. What better way to accomplish this than by offering them the best tools, training, and encouragement to grow and excel at what they do?

Victoria Parker

Victoria Parker

Marketing Manager @Visual Practice: Integration. Automation. Simplicity. “Voted best specialty dental + orthodontic software for new and expanding practices”

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